Kenya’s first Jua Kali limousine


When best friends John Kinuthia and Benjamin Omache came across an old Nissan abandoned at their school teachers quarters’ car park, they began to toy with the idea of transforming the jalopy into a fancy limousine.

Less than 12 months later, the two students at the Nairobi Technical Training Institute have developed what would pass as the country’s first ‘home-made’ limousine, which partly relies on the sun’s energy for its internal operations.

“Some time ago, we were searching theinternet, reading about cars when we stumbled on information that claimed limousines can be made by stretching a normal car.


It was curiosity to see whether this was actually true that prompted us to give it a try,” says Benjamin, a third year student of automotive engineering.

Armed with the information from the internet, the two buddies approached the owner of the car, who turned out to be one of their lecturers, John Wathanga, who agreed to help them turn their idea into a limo.

“Our lecturer, who is also an engineer, helped us design the car, after which we worked on it,” continues Benjamin, who says that they began to work on the vehicle in May last year. By applying simple technology, the two, both 21, have managed to turn an ordinary four-seater sedan into a luxurious eight-seater automobile.

“Initially this was a Nissan B14 with a 1600cc engine, but we cut it into two, stretched it and using galvanized steel, we transformed it into a limousine,” explainsJohn, who, like his friend, is a third year mechanical engineeringstudent.

The students have also installed a solar panel, mounted on top of the limo to power the car’s air conditioning system, music and TV system, as well as lighting. This ensures that the car battery is not overworked.

They spent Sh1.8 million to build the car, money they received from their college. Two weeks ago, the two friends drove the limo from their college in Ngara, in the outskirts of the city, to Nairobi’s CBD to showcase it at the National Science Week at KICC, where they attracted many admirers with their sublime innovation.


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